And not before time.
Bill Walker, who was the MSP for Dunfermline, was convicted sixteen days ago on 23 counts of domestic violence over nearly three decades. That it has taken him so long to finally tender his resignation is not altogether surprising.
Like many bullies, Walker has consistently presented as arrogant with a disregard and blatant disrespect for the concerns of others. He is not stepping down as "the decent thing"; rather the bully himself has now apparently been bullied into taking the only logical course of action available to him. Defiant and deluded until the end, Walker predictable failed to take responsibility for his actions and blamed others for his having to stand aside. Turning on the media, he claimed that the "onslaught has made it impossible to properly represent my constituents and their interests". He's made the right decision - for altogether the wrong reasons.
Walker's short parliamentary "career", if it could be called that, has been characterised by intolerance - his most notable contribution to the Scottish political conversation being his outspoken stance against marriage equality and indeed LGBT rights more generally. Without apparent irony, he considered himself qualified to be the upholder of social morality and what he termed "family values". His then party, the SNP, failed to act decisively to challenge his homophobia. Fortunately they moved swiftly when confronted with his history of domestic violence.
Walker's contribution to Scottish politics has been so negative that today's decision has been the most constructive action he's taken in two years.
Walker has cut a distinctly isolated figure in parliament of late, abandoned by his former colleagues in the SNP. This served only to strengthen his resolve to resist the inevitable. Willie Rennie's motion calling on Walker to vacate his seat immediately was supported by the vast majority of MSPs from all parties and, despite this show of solidarity from parliamentarians, Walker showed no sign of being willing to resign...until tonight.
Parliament has shown a zero tolerance approach towards domestic violence, and that is very welcome. That Bill Walker has finally, following pressure from parliament, the media and constituents. stepped down is also positive. That it has taken so long in coming, that he was not appropriately disciplined for his homophobic outbursts and that he was able to enter parliament in spite of his history are concerning, and there remain many unanswered questions from which we need to learn.
On the plus side, Walker's homophobia did give me the opportunity to speculate about his motivations, and in doing so have a little fun at his expense. So perhaps every cloud has a silver lining.
So, farewell Bill Walker...and good riddance. It pains me to say that. There are very few parliamentarians of any party who I genuinely hope to see the back of.
Interestingly, it is not only myself and the wider public but many of Walker's old friends in the SNP who share this view. George Adam MSP took to twitter to express his relief: "about time. Bill Walker STILL remains deluded, blaming all but himself. 3 decades of abuse and its the press to blame. #fool". There were several others too. Not only does this underline how distanced Walker became from his former colleagues, but also his poor relationships with them, which seem to predate public knowledge of his violent past.
Walker's resignation is, of course, not merely a victory for the media as he suggests. Neither is it primarily a victory for parliament, or indeed Willie Rennie who has been energetic in his calls for Walker to step down. It is a victory for both justice and common-sense.
Despite his dogged defiance, Walker eventually succumbed to pressure. However, while the eventual outcome is the right one, there should be processes put in place to ensure that an MSP so convicted can never attempt to cling onto office in the way Walker did. There is a very real case for revisiting the rules, and I trust the Scottish Parliament has the courage to do so.
In the meantime, we now have the Dunfermline by-election to look forward to. I'm excited already...